STANFORD, CA — Acute postoperative pain following surgery can complicate recovery, according to a study which said the condition has been associated with chronic pain development and lower quality of life.

Researchers from Stanford University and the VA Palo Alto, CA, Healthcare System sought to analyze the relationship between differing breast cancer excisional procedures, reconstruction, and short-term pain outcomes.

The study published in the Journal of Surgical Oncology focused on women undergoing breast cancer excisional procedures with or without reconstruction at two systems: an academic hospital (AH) and a VHA facility. Average pain scores at the time of discharge and at 30-day follow-up were analyzed across demographic and clinical characteristics.1

Included were 1,402 patients at the academic hospital and 1,435 at the VA; 426 patients at the first and 165 at the second underwent reconstruction.

Results indicate that pain scores improved over time and were found to be highest at discharge. Researchers determined that the strongest predictors of high pain scores were time at discharge, 30-day follow-up, and preoperative opioid use, In addition, they said younger age and longer length of stay were independently associated with worse pain scores.

“Younger age, preoperative opioid use, and longer length of stay were associated with higher levels of postoperative pain across both sites,” the authors concluded.

  1. Azad AD, Bozkurt S, Wheeler AJ, Curtin C, et. Al. A two-institution study of surgical factors influencing short-term pain outcomes. J Surg Oncol. 2020 Jun 20:10.1002/jso.26070. doi: 10.1002/jso.26070. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32563208; PMCID: PMC7749807.